A Sheffield University project to provide routes into top class careers for ordinary people has been massively oversubscribed, with over three applications for every place.
Over 300 applications were submitted for the 90 places on offer, which will give cash support for people taking courses which could see them becoming lawyers, teachers, architects, engineers or doctors.
The financial backing on offer is aimed at under-represented groups, including those from low-income backgrounds, mature students and people with caring responsibilities.
Sheffield was one of six universities taking part in the £3 million programme designed to widen access to postgraduate studies and professional careers.
There has been a significant fall in home postgraduate student numbers – a growing crisis with significant implications for the UK skills base and wider economy.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “It is very telling that Sheffield is massively oversubscribed for what is the biggest postgraduate taught scholarship offer the country has seen.
“The message of this is clear. When you remove the financial barriers, there is an overwhelming demand to continue study which offers students the opportunities to enter professions which require postgraduate qualifications.
“If these career opportunities were barred to students from less affluent backgrounds due to cost, it would be a tragedy for our country and a waste of the talent and insight we need into society as a whole.
“While families may genuinely want to support their children through university, continuing study after a first degree is a step too far for many. It is clear that postgraduate education is the new frontier of widening participation.”